Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, interview after release from Yemeni captors ..

Having been brought up in a Salesian school (Don Bosco Irinjalakuda, Kerala), I feel so elated at the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil from the hands of Yemeni captors after 18 months of detention (March 4, 2016 - Sept. 12, 2017) for helping refugees in war-torn Yemen, after help and negotiations by the Vatican and government of Oman ... 
While his colleagues, five nuns were shot dead, Fr. Tom was spared. Here is an interview he gave to ANS after his release.

(ANS – Rome) – Father Tom Uzhunnalil answers a few questions, an ANS exclusive.

*How have you spent these 18 months in captivity and how did your captors treat you?*

It was a long waiting and I did not know what to do except to pray.

My hand and legs were tied and my movements limited for a few days only.

I have spent my time praying as much as possible, for as many intentions possible. I used to sleep, pray, think of my technical classes and prepare some lessons etc and go to sleep each night. Each day used to go like that and I had no communication at all from the outside world, nor did I know where I was put up also.

My captors did not ill treat me or torture me. They gave me food all the three times and they asked me one time details about me, my family, the places visited, the people I know etc. I was their captive and the whole day I used be sitting on the ground on a sponge like material with my hands and legs tied, and when I am tired, I used to sleep a bit or lay down, and my days went like that.

*How did you feel when you came to know about the death of the sisters and the others in the attack in Aden?*

It was on 4th of March 2016, Friday, after the Eucharistic Adoration and Eucharistic blessing in the morning for the five sisters, I had breakfast. Then I spent some more time in the chapel for personal prayer. Around 8.40 am, I just came out of the sister's house. I heard a gun shot almost immediately, and one of the attackers held my hand and I declared I am an Indian. He made me sit in a chair, near the security room, near the main gate of the campus of the institution. The sisters were already at their place of work with the old people. The main man of the attackers went to the place of work, and brought out two sisters first, and went back again and brought another two sisters near to the main gate. He went and looked out for the fifth sister but could not trace her in the campus. Then he returned back to the place near the main gate, where the sisters were kept. Then he took two sisters first, moved them to some distance out of my sight and shot them, then he came back and took the other two in my vicinity and shot them,  all these took place within the campus. I only prayed to God to forgive the sisters and the persecutors and have mercy on them. I did not cry, nor did I have any fear of death.

Then he took me and put me in the boot of the car, which they parked near the campus, and closed the door of the boot of the car. He entered the sister's chapel, brought the tabernacle with the blessed sacrament in it and threw it in the boot of the car, where I was closed and kept in. They drove away the car with me in it.

I was experiencing a great distress. I prayed to God to be merciful to the sisters and the others who were killed and to forgive the killers. I prayed to the Lord to give the grace and strength to accept his will and remain ever faithful to God, till I am faithful to the mission, he has for me in this life, here on earth.

*How much did your life of prayer and Salesian Charism help you in this experience as a captive?*

The major part of my time be it day or night whenever I was awake was dedicated to prayer. I used to start the day with the angelus, followed by one our father and hail mary for each of the sisters who died, then go on to pray for my province, congregation, parish, family remembering as many as possible and praying for them. I used to pray also for my captors and ask the Lord to forgive them and pray for their conversion. I had no host or wine, nor any missal or lectionary, but I used to celebrate a spritual mass everyday. I used to offer it to the Lord, and for the readings each day I used to take some incident of the old testament or the new testament, and for the gospel some miracle, or parable or some episode in the life of Jesus and meditate. I used to also pray for all the deceased salesians, family members, parishioners and all people I knew. I used to keep on praying for as many intentions I could pray for. I also prayed that if it was the Lord's will that I should be freed, I prayed for my deliverance also. I used to pray the rosary often. Sometimes, I could not pray also, because they used to talk in Arabic and I could not concentrate on anything, in my mind.

*How were the videos of your appeal for liberation made?*

It was well planned by them. They used to tell me in advace that they were making a video to make an appeal to get some money, I had no other go than to obey them. They used to also shoot as if they were hitting me, and make some noise, but they never harmed me. They were hoping that these clippings would fetch them the ransom quickly.

*How do you feel after you have been released?*

The Lord has done a great miracle for me and given me another life. If he has saved me, it means he has still some plan for me and he wants me to live for Him and be a witness. I want to thank God the alimighty, the Church authorities both in India and Vatican, the Salesian Congregation, the family and to each an every single person who has been praying for my release. Definitely it is because of the prayers, that my life was spared.

*How do you feel after meeting the Holy Father?*

This is also a big grace bestowed on me because of my captivity.  I wept profusely before him sharing with him my experience. He was so sympathetic, compassionate and concerned and he kissed my hand twice. I cannot expect anything more than this, I have been given a new life and I requested the Holy Father to thank all the people for the prayers offered for me all over the world.

*What are your next plans? Are you going to return to India immediately?*

Right now, I feel physically weak, but with the medicines and food I am also beginning to feel better. I need to do a couple of medical tests and I hope I will be able to recover soon. When I was in Aden, I used to weigh 82 kgs and after my release when I checked my weight, I was 55 kgs and now with the food and medicines that I am taking the last two days, I am improving. I am sure I will feel better, because God's grace and the prayers of the people are helping me.

I have no plans except to do God's will, and that will be expressed to me through the Superiors of the Salesian Congregation. I would definitely love to get back to India and thank all the people and meet all my people, but I shall wait till the doctors certify that I am fit to travel. It may take some more time, and I am ready to wait for some more time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Service providers, facilitators and customers ..

This chart gives us some of the world's largest service providers. It is an eye opener at the trend of global things that will emerge in the coming years, it also reminds of the great events that befall planet earth and its commercial world in future.

All of the service providers mentioned here act as middle-men and have been enabled by the Digital world and e-commerce. These companies have great unparallelled networking capabilities that connect the service provider and the customer .

One important player missing here is Google Tez, the Indian Unified Payment Interface (UPI). Without really having much money, Tez would in future control global payments acting as the middlemen between banks, businesses and customers not only within India but around the world

Impacts : 

1. With less of middle men, expenses are less, but often profits are huge. 
2 More consolidation and centralisation of money and power.
3. Streamlined, efficient, well laid out and clear procedures
4. Low risks involved
5. Networking brings more customers and service providers online making the middle-men stronger, more profitable and productive..
6. Small players (middle-men) vanish or are pushed out
The most important lesson this tells us is - the player who has the maximum networking ability is going to control the businesses of the world. 
Where will this global trend lead us to ??

George .

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Total Quality Management - basics

Concorde Motors alongside Tata Motors, Dairy circle, Bangalore, India.
A very efficient and customer friendly shopfloor environment that I have seen is the Tata Motors Service showroom of Concorde Motors in Dairy Circle, Bangalore. 

The moment you enter, these is enough communication media that tells you where to go and whom to contact. The ambience of the place is great and there are enough areas for the customer to sit. In front of the customer representatives there are enough chairs to make him comfortable. The counter clerk is an enthusiastic young lady. The coffee machine has an attendant to serve the customer or the customer can self-operate it any time. The customer representative notes down systematically the customer issues and directs him/her to the right department. An accurate analysis of the work involved is arrived at by the employee along with the approximate rates and delivery dates and informs the customer who then takes leave.  

This is an environment which nobody can find fault with. So comfortable, cool and customer friendly..

Total Quality Management (TQM) is based on the Deming Cycle famously referred to as the PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act). It is also completely based on customer satisfaction ..

The eight elements of TQM are as follows -

1. customer-focused
2. total employee involvement
3. process centered
4. integrated system
5. strategic and systematic approach
6. continual improvement
7. fact-based decision making and
8. communications

If you look at the 8 processes and try to find what are the functions of each of these and how they contribute to the whole, we find TQM is nothing but an orderly and disciplined customer-focused, employee enriching fact-based control system that has a relentless focus on improvement and great communication. 

What are the pre-requisites one needs to acquire and master before embarking on a journey of Total Quality Management. ?

Of late we have Quality Management Systems which are systems that help organisations be systematic and orderly, but rarely it beings focus on customer satisfaction and employee enrichment. Even the Malcolm Baldridge Quality Awards or the Deming Prize concentrate fully on orderliness, processes, and customers, with a very small emphasis on employees ..
The six critical areas where any organisation implementing TQM needs to focus is
1. customer focus (feedback analysis)
2. total employee involvement (quality circles)
3. process-centred (5S, JIT, VSM)
4. continuous improvement (Kaizen) and
5. fact-based process-control ( Ishikawa diagram, Pareto analysis, SQC) and
6. Communications (Visual systems and posters)
For a University aiming to be among the top 20 of the world by 2030 AD, what are the planning and activities it needs to carry out ?

Click here for great ASQ TQM resources..


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Is Nature paying US back ?

Harvey and Irma in 3 minutes ! 

Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria after US bombing, looks better, than after this natural bombing of Texas and Florida !!  sad ..

Is nature paying back ?? The devastating US bombing in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria was over years back. 

Is it that the natural bombing of US has just started ??

George ..

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Managing technology - simplified ..

The other day I was trying to find the different technologies in use at my home in Bangalore. They are

1. Surveillance
2. Communication
3. Visual/ entertainment
4. Audio
5. Environment conditioning/heating
6. Refrigeration
7. Lighting
8. Computing / info tech
9. Vehicle/movement
10. Photographic
11. Electricity/energy  - conv / non-conv
12. Cleaning - clothes/dishes
13. Cooking
14. Water treatment
15. Water storage/distribution
16. Health monitoring - X-Rays, MRI/ blood tests etc.
17. House construction

On what basis do we decide what technologies to have at home and what not ?

The important aspects are capital costs and running costs, the effectiveness, comfort, the benefits and so on.

Technology is the application of scientific knowledge and principles for practical purposes especially in the industry. It refers to the machines and devices developed from scientific knowledge. It is also referred to as the branch of knowledge dealing with engineering and applied science. -
The inadvertant use of technology besides making human life much easier on planet earth has also destroyed our health and environment in many ways.

Of all the technologies listed above, information technology and the different apps related to IT are the ones that are in maximum use.
Technology management can also be defined as the integrated planning, design, optimization, operation and control of technological products, processes and services, a better definition would be the management of the use of technology for human advantage. -
How does one adopt technologies and how does one tide through the technology cycle :

Whenever a new technology is introduced there is a period of low acceptance and adaptation. Once this period is overcome, then comes the period of slow acceptance and big technology adaptation. This brings a change in the systems and finally the fringe users also accept the technology.

What is the role of Innovation in this ?

Innovation helps us to extract more value from these technologies, by way of new products, processes, services and the like. 

Mayo Clinic 50 health tips.

This is a very useful document which highlights how to keep up one's health during good and bad times. 

Click here for the link ..

You won't get these tips from Doctors due to their busy schedule and in most cass, wilful ignorance and negligence of the doctors to help patients avoid diseases than curing them. 

The petty-minded medical community does not seem to believe in the old adage - prevention is better than cure !

Thanks to the doctors and staff of preventive medicine at Mayo Clinic for this fantastic document .. 

George. .

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Life on Earth ..

If this is what happens after human extinction on Earth, roughly every 100 million years, imagine we have had approximately 46 earlier cycles of such creation and extinction already !! 

What would have been the size and shape of the intelligent thinking creatures in each of these geological cycles and what would have been their accomplishments and creations, knowledge sources, energy sources like ? 

In each of these cycles, what were their Gods and religious customs like ? Did they ever have Gods at all ? What were  those civilization and cultures like ?

How did they move from point A to point B ? Did they explore outer space ?

What rational thinking (like our Science) and knowledge did they rely on ?

How many of that intelligent species populated planet Earth then ? How did they reproduce? What were their food like ?

Were material, spiritual, knowledg or any otheer possessions considered desirable in society? Excess of which of these possessions brought respect in society ?

What did they call the supernatural powers then ? How did they worship them ? Were the intelligent species divided on these powers they worshipped ?

Did all members of the intelligent species have the same colour of skin ? Were they discrminated then ?

Did they live in families and societies ? Who became the leader and what qualities did he or she have ?

Where there two or more than two sexes or only one ? How was time denoted then ? Were there any more fundamental dimensions than that of mass, length and time which we possess ?

Interesting thoughts ..

Monday, September 11, 2017

Is this Afghanistan or Florida ?

No nation is advanced or strong enough in this world, as the above pic shows .. All have their own weaknesses and pain points .. In Texas and Florida, we saw and continue to see US being tossed left and right, up and down .. No AWACS, no STAR WARS, no nuclear bomb can save US now ..

It is a sad plight to see a strong power, US, global leader in science and technology, medicine, transportation, space technology and so on, also the second largest polluter of the world, totally helpless, being pounded time and again by mother nature ! Trillions of dollars of material damage already  ..

Let's be modest and mend our ways !

President Trump needs to have a relook at his climate policy. The vagaries of nature occuring all around the world, particularly now in United States, is due to man's insensitivity, especially that of the leader United States, to the uncontrolled atmospheric and ground based pollution happening around the world.

Now it is United States, next it could be Europe and then the rest of the world. Beware, countries of the world. US would not accept its responsibility in causing this great change in global climate by polluting the world from 1876 onwards when it regained the position as the world's top industrial power.

The casualty of this hurrricane so far in US has been three deaths and 65 millions of people shifted to makeshift safety camps. the material damage has been very large. HBR suspects  damage to the local economy to the tune of $1.2 trillion. It could take perhaps weeks and months to retain its earlier glory. Lets be optimistic and modest. Climate change from global pollution is not just the look out of Europe and Asia, US also has its hands in deep shit in this problem and needs to pull up its pants and co-operate with global efforts to contain future damaging global effects of climate change ..


Is slow work, productive work ?

Author unknown (from the Internet), but I found this an absorbing read and very thought provoking ...

Slow Down Culture in Sweden Vs.Hustling Culture of US.
It's been 18 years since I joined Volvo, a Swedish company. Working for them has proven to be an interesting experience. Any project here takes 2 years to be finalized, even if the idea is simple and brilliant. It's a rule.

Globalize processes have caused in us (all over the world) a general sense of searching for immediate results. Therefore, we have come to possess a need to see immediate results. This contrasts greatly with the slow movements of the Swedish. They, on the other hand, debate, debate, debate, hold x number  of meetings and work with a slowdown scheme. In the end, this always yields better results.

Put in other words:
1. Sweden is about the size of San Pablo , a state in Brazil .
2. Sweden has 9 million inhabitants.
3. Stockholm has 500,000 people.
4. Volvo, Escania, Ericsson, Electrolux, Nokia are some of its renowned companies. Volvo supplies the NASA.

The first time I was in Sweden , one of my colleagues picked me up at the hotel every morning. It was September, bit cold and snowy. We would arrive early at the company and he would park far away from the entrance (2000 employees drive their car to work). The first day, I didn't say anything, either the second or third. One morning I asked, "Do you have a fixed parking space? I've noticed we park far from the entrance even when there are no other cars in the lot." To which he replied, "Since we're here early we'll have time to walk, and whoever gets in late will be late and need a place closer to the door. Don't you think so?" Imagine my face. (And imagine a corporate parking lot in US!) 

Nowadays, there's a movement in Europe named Slow Food. This movement establishes that people should eat and drink slowly, with enough time to taste their food, spend time with the family, friends, without rushing. Slow Food is against its counterpart: the spirit of Fast Food and what it stands for as a lifestyle. Slow Food is the basis for a bigger movement called Slow Europe, as mentioned by Business Week. Basically, the movement questions the sense of "hurry" and "craziness" generated by globalization, fuelled by the desire of "having in quantity" (life status) versus "having with quality", "life quality" or the quality of being".

French people, even though they work only 35 hours per week, are more productive than Americans or British. Germans have established 29 hour workweeks and have seen their productivity been driven up by 20%. This slow attitude has brought forth the US's attention, pupils of the fast and the "do it now!". This no-rush attitude doesn't represent doing less or having a lower productivity. It means working and doing things with greater quality, perfection, with more attention to detail and less stress. It means reducing rejects and wastage. It means re-establishing family values, friends. This no-rush attitude doesn't represent doing less or having a lower productivity. It means working and doing things with greater quality, perfection, with more attention to detail and less stress. Taking the "now", present and concrete, versus the "global", undefined and anonymous future. It means taking humans' essential values, the simplicity of living. It stands for a less coercive work environment, more happy, lighter and more productive where humans enjoy doing what they know best how to do.

It's time to stop and think on how companies need to develop serious quality with no-rush that will increase productivity and the quality of products and services, without losing the essence of the human spirit.

Many of us live our lives running behind time, but we only reach it when we die of a heart attack or in a car accident rushing to be on time. Others are so anxious of living the future that they forget to live the present, which is the only time that truly exists. We all have equal time throughout the world. No one has more or less. The difference lies in how each one of us does with our time. We need to live each moment.

As John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans".

Congratulations for reading till the end of this message. There are many who will have stopped in the middle so as not to waste time in this globalized world. 

Probably applies to many of us (if not all of us).


Does slow (thoughtful) work mean more quality productive work ?

Fact corrected - Sweden has 9.8 million population.


Saturday, September 09, 2017

Problem penetration as an efficient metric ..

Most of the time new enterprises are evaluated on the metric of market penetration. How much of customers are using the product or service is a measure of the acceptance of the product/service presently in the market and is also an indicator of how more customers will get attracted to the product/service in future.

If we slightly change our thinking process from meeting our needs (less affirmative) to solving problems (more affirmative and pro-active), besides helping solve problems it can motivate innovative thinking and new applications and processes. How ?

Problem penetration as a metric addresses the core issue of the problems/challenges addressed by new product or service introduction. What are the problems/challenges faced by the market presently and how far does the 'new' product/service address this market problem is a great way to address the issue. Other than addressing the immediate problem in the society and satisfying an unmet need, this metric also motivates innovative thinking in the organisation. 

The products/services developed by this metric specific thinking process is likely to bring in more innovative thinking and innovative products and services to the market.

We know, Market penetration ratio is the ratio of the amount of sales to the total theoritical market for the product or service.

Problem penetration ratio could thus be more accurately defined as the ratio of problems directly addressed or satisfied by the solution to the sum total of all current problems faced by the industry sector trying to find solutions.

It would also be a good idea to keep track of the innovations that accrue as a fallout from the introduction of this metric.  Hitting two birds with one stone !!


Ref : Yoon, Eddie, Tesla shows how traditional business metrics are outdated, HBR, August, 2017.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

India retains top spot in data usage, thanks JIO .. ..

On the 5th of September last year, Indian Internet data consumption was just 20 crore GB (200 million GB) per month. On 5th of September 2017, this figure changed to 150  crore GB (1500 million GB) per month.

Who was the top singular Internet service provider and telecommunications provider in India who made a big difference the way India handles data ? was no doubt Reliance Jio, the telecommunications company working on 4G by Mukesh Ambani. In the period of a year he also has got atleast 136 million new connections making it among the top telecom players of the world. With the offer of a free Jio 4G phone for Rs 1500 ($25, refundable) he is again going to disrupt the whole telecom world like never before.

Mukesh Ambani invested almost $ 33 billion in building hardware infrastructure in cables, towers and stations across the country making Reliance Jio investment the heaviest in telecommunication in any country of the world by any telecom service provider. Mukesh has also seen that India has the cheapest 4G data availability at $0.17/GB.

Telecommunications sector being a very hot and active participant in economic development of any country, it is not hard t say whether  India can maintain the lead for a long time. Will China build its own super heavy networks and challenge India and Reliance Jio ? We have to wait and watch.


Wednesday, September 06, 2017

How to neutralise your body and remain healthy ..

Have plenty of fruits, plantains in your daily diet
If you look a some of the ancient and time tested medication systems and practices around the world, be it the famous Ayurveda from India, Homeopathy from Germany Unani from Greece, Egypt and the middle east, the traditional acupuncture, herbs, massage and dietary therapy from China, almost everywhere the stress has been on identifying the root cause and eliminating this root cause. 

The more nascent western medicine also has a scientific approach to treat ailments, but most of the time, the treatment is superficial and treats symptoms than the real cause. The high variance in efficacy of treatment procedures from differently able and informed practitioners makes western medicine scary at times !

This chart tells you what foods to avoid ..
Our lifestyle and food eating habits especially with bakery foods, chemical fertiliser enabled food items, vegetables, hormone injected poultry items, fish etc sees to it that most of the time our diet is acidic in nature, less than 7 pH value.

The more acidic our stomach and body, the more problems we face, all sorts of health ailments like arthritis, acidity, gas etc. The continued presence of acidic environment in our body (low pH) can lead to many disturbances and imbalances in the human body, especially leading to cancer..

Taking food items which are alkaline in nature will help you to reclaim the neutral or mildly alkaline environment in your stomach. Ideally blood should be 7.3 - 7.5 pH value, slightly alkaline.

Click here for the ideal 8 food items to give you an alkaline stomach and blood, a healthy body..
Food components that leave an acidic ash include protein, phosphate and sulfur, while alkaline components include calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Certain food groups are considered acidic, alkaline or neutral:
  • Acidic: Meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, grains and alcohol.
  • Neutral: Natural fats, starches and sugars.
  • Alkaline: Fruits, nuts, legumes and vegetables.
                   : From "The alkaline diet - an evidence based interview", Joe Leech
Do not miss out on sunlight, nature's greatest gift to humanity

Don't miss out on vegetables, local fruits, nuts and roots.. These are the food items that helps to neutralise your body pH and helps you lead a healthy life. 

Sunlight is the greatest gift from  nature to mankind. Take enough of sunlight, 30 mins at least 4 times a week, of the morning sun upto 10 AM. Besides raising the Vitamin D levels in the body, it has multitude of benefits as the above pictorial shows ..


Monday, September 04, 2017

Will the digital superpowers of the world grow more stronger ?

The top eight digital superpowers of the world are given in this pictorial.

While three of these are from China, five are from United States, the top and second topmost economies in the world. These companies definitely add value to the people of the world without any doubt of discrimination. but the really scary question is - are they really getting all-powerful making them escape the control mechanisms of the world ? 

What aids them in their quest to be the digital superpowers of the world ? It was simple innovative thinking which propelled them initially and gave them the required traction to beat local competition and emerge as global IT products.

Networking is propelling them to greater heights, lets take a look at Metcalfe's law which gives us some understanding about the process.

Metcalfe's law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2).

Even though the law is for telecommunications network, in the present world it is equally relevant in the digital world too.

The strength and popularity of a network is determined by the number of players or nodes in the network. As the number of  nodes increase, the strength and capability of a network increases according to the square of the nodes connected.

With just under 2.5 billion people of 7.25 billion all over the world connected to the Internet, as the unconnected people of the world get online and connected, these superpowers are only going get stronger and flex their muscles again.

An interesting fact is to know how these digital superpowers (or hub firms) compete. These hub firms do not compete based on the services and products they offer, on costs or features, they relocate themselves to the new environment and using their strength of networking, access the services and products on offer in the new environment, what follows is complete domination.

A very scary situation.. A possible outcome is these eight superpowers may get re-consolidated to two or three and control the people of the world .. When the next round of electric driver-less cars, working on artificial intelligence, networked and connected to the cloud emerges in the global scene, whichever be the company, it will emerge really strong and be a contender for the digital superpower post.  

The doubts that linger in the minds of the people are whether these over controlling digital super powers of the world, will control humanity to a large extent resulting in the imbalance between the haves and the have-nots increasing. Will it lead to social unrest and wars in the future ? The other great drawback of this whole exercise is we are in a stage and cannot backtrack. 


Ref : Iansiti, Marco and Karim Lakhani, Managing our Hub economy, HBR, Aug-Sept., 2017. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Meet Padmasri Jadav Payeng, India's Forest man ..

Great selfless task
Jadav Payeng, is the forest man of India. It is great to learn about this villager from Assam who on his own enterprise went on to plant 1360 acres of forest.

Over 37 years he singlehandedly   planted the forest, which presently is being inhabited by elephants, tigers, deers, bisons and many species of birds and snakes .. 


Startups and their significance ..

Imagine you are carrying out the following activities, How does it differ from a startup ?

1. Opening a MacDonamld's franchise in Ejipura area in Bangalore.
2. Opening a medical store in near NGV on Bangalore ..
3. Open a small tea shop selling snacks near Sony World, Bangalore.
4. Open a photostat shop near Canara Bank stop in Koramangala, Bangalore.
5. Setting up a small CAD/CAM design and machining centre in Koramangala

Do any of these qualify to be called a startup ? No, Why not ?

ALL processes have infinite potential for improvement
There is nothing new in the idea, people have been doing these businesses for ages and the business does not have any great scope of being scaled up. The scope of providing great value to customers is very limited.

Clock here for a Forbes article on What is a startup ?

What qualifies an initiative to be termed as a start-up ?

First of all we have to understand that it is not looking at a great, new, invention as the output. It can be as simple as a pencil that lasts longer(because of a reinforced pencil lead that does not break..) or a new fuel injector that causes the right mixing of fuel and air in the fuel injection resulting in reduced use of fuel and hence great mileage for the vehicle.

Click here for an Investopaedia article on what is a startup ..

Customers only look for VALUE ..
The first main difference between an ordinary business and a start-up is INNOVATION. Innovation in inputs like new material, innovation in the process/technology or innovation in the output .. Innovation can also be in finding a new use for the same product

The other great difference between an ordinary business and a start-up is the scope of scaling up and growth. Start-ups can be scaled up fast with minimum of inputs and resources while an ordinary business cannot scale up so fast because of limitations of demand, capacity etc..

Try new ideas, fail fast, learn and move ..
Start-ups can be setup with minimum of infrastructure and resources, since it has great scope for growth and scaling up, it will need more resources very soon.

Start-up is all about IDEAS nobody has ever thought of !!

Start-up is about generating more value for the costomer ..

Start-up is about fast pace of growth.

Start-up is also about EXECUTION - hardwork and perseverence ..

Google mantra - give more value to your customer ..
With the new megatrend of sustainability picking up and soon set to be a trillion dollar business, the new wave of innovations will be looking at

1. how solid and wet wastes treatment and disposal
2. traffic management - reducing accidents and commuting time
3. effective methods for conservation of water
4. low cost, high capacity industrial desalination plants 
5. reducing the carbon footprint of industrial, residential, transportation and domestic activities
6. reducing e-wastes generation and safe disposal
7. generation of energy from non-renewable non-polluting sources like solar, wind, tidal etc..
8. energy conservation through innovative design and usage of products 

we only wish humanity would come up with novel and innovative ideas to handle man's greatest and pressing problem in the coming centuries, ensuring environmental sustainability ..


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Is Uber or Ola car riding services better in Bangalore ?

The two major taxi services in Bangalore ..
Though not quite a regular taxi user in  Bangalore, I do use taxi services by Ola and Uber occasionally, say once or twice a fortnight.

Though an Ola fan for quite some time, of late I have been seeing a slump in the quality of services from Ola. The issue with Ola was the delay in getting taxis from Ola. Though the drivers have not made any difference with me from both these companies, the quality of the service offered by the companies, I found has been wavering. 

The stake holders in the internet mediated riding services industry, though pioneered by Uber around the world, are the customers, drivers (who also are in most cases owners too), the owners, the service providers like UBER, OLA etc who connect the customer with the driver using technology, the regulatory agencies from the government, like taxes, licences, traffic regulation, violation etc, GOOGLE Maps  and the government agencies looking after the maintenance of the infrastructure like the PWD , NHAI etc. 

Of all these stakeholders, the customer and the driver are the two stakeholders who are in direct contact during the duration of the ride and hence are the most important stakeholders. As much interest should be given to the employee or driver as these companies are giving to the customers. 

Customer friendliness : Uber is more customer friendly, both in terms of technology and people. Uber makes its drivers feel more looked after. For instance, when I took a Uber vehicle yesterday, (I was forced to migrate to Uber, as the Ola app repeatedly showed that there were no cabs to take me to Yeshwanpur Railway station from Koramangala Police station area at 8 PM at night), it is my habit to get accustomed with the driver and get into a conversation with him. I feel there is something I can learn from every person in this world, how small or mighty he or she is. Immediately as I got inside the car, I got a message from Uber, introducing the driver to me, telling me of his impeccable record of safe driving, how many hours he has so far logged with UIber and so on. I could also see his personal profile. You should see the pride on the face of the driver when I congratulated him for his safe driving.  

Employee friendliness : I immediately got into a conversation with him and you should see the professional satisfaction the driver was displaying when I asked him how he could keep so high a safety profile. I also asked him a few questions when he explained that he has a family and is not interested in working 16 hour shifts, instead is satisfied with 10 hour shifts and this gives him almost 30-40 K earnings a month. He was a satisfied person. Since his father used to drink too much and cause problems at home, he knew the perils of drinking and was very careful as to how he chose his friends. Most of his friends are from Islam, though he is a Hindu. He was trying to explain to me how because of his friend circle he could keep off intoxication and lead a very peaceful life.

In the course of the discussion the beans got spilled out, why he moved out from Ola to Uber since last eight months. 

Incentives : Of the many reasons he spoke about (I am sure Ola people are keeping track of these facts and will attend to the problems with their offering and offer effective customer and employee competition to Uber), he had lot of qualms regarding the services and incentives offered by Ola in comparison to Uber. Uber offers higher incentives to drivers and has more flexible working hours in comparison to Ola. 

Were it not for GPS and Google maps, Uber and Ola would be
very ineffective ..
Technology Intervention : Both the companies and their drivers are heavily dependent on Internet based apps and Google Maps which guides them through the dense traffic chokepoints of Bangalore city. Thanks to Google, I get to the destination within +_ 5% deviation from the time forecast by Google for the ride. Both these companies should be thankful to Google for the Maps facility and also to the US Government for the providing the GPS satellite for free use by mostly the Uber and Ola drivers as also the private drivers of the world.

Inefficient Transportation Infrastructure and Leadership : As long as we have very inefficient leaders who cannot get us the best mass and rapid transportation infrastructure in Bangalore, all of us will be still dependent on these two companies at least for the next five years to say the least. 

Advanced Renewable Energy Technology : Uber may be looking to reduce its costs by offering electric cars, I hear they have introduced it in a couple of cities around the world, that will be the new technology Bangaloreans can look to experience and savour in the next couple of years, much earlier than in any other city in India.  

My son is an infrequent user of Uber and me having had the first great Uber riding erxperience, Ola needs to be on the lookout, they are on the verge of losing a faithful Ola customer to Uber. Though Ola had an edge initially in Bangalore, of late by taking care of the customers, technology and drivers, Uber has been able to create a niche for itself in the city of Bangalore. 


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Decathlon showroom at ETA Mall, Binnypet, Bangalore.

On 23 August 2017, I got a good opportunity to visit a grand retail showroom of the European sports goods manufacturer, Decathlon in Bangalore. The objective was to involve the students from Alliance University in getting to know about the business processes that help world class performance and to to get some ideas on how to achieve lean setup in the organisation.

The cycling section, very impressive
The French sports eqpt manufacturer  has 50 showrooms in India of which 10 are in Bangalore. When I took 60 students of first year MBA of Alliance School of Business, Bangalore for an academic study visit to know more about retail shopping and retailing layouts, little did we realize that we were witnessing a world class retailing environment ..

Shop Layout : In a 10,000 sq ft showroom the manner in which Decathlon had neatly organised the different sports equipments on shelves, fixed and movable, for different sports and pastimes like camping, trekking etc according to the sports classification was really worth observing and learning for the students. While the shelves near the walls are fixed, the shelves in all other places are fixed on castor wheels to enable quick rearrangement of the shop floor layout.

Shop lighting : The lighting across the shopfloor was ambient and nearly perfect, not too high, nor too low.

Passion : Employees display great passion for the sports area they represent - A great observation we could make out was the passion each of the showroom personnel had for his or her sports area. Working at Decathlon for these employees is their lifeline and passion. I have never seen any retail shop floor where employees have felt so much engrossed and passionate about the sports equipment they were trying to sell or explain to customers. The large showroom area also saw customers checking out the items and sports equipments on their own on the shopfloor to get a feel of the item.

Footfall : In retail environments, it is usual to have higher footfall on weekends than on weekdays. The fast-moving equipments for the popular sports of cricket, football, basketball etc are kept at the farthest end of the store to ensure customers get to see the variety of items on the shop floor before they select these items and make a purchase.

The Store Manager Ching passionately explaining to students
Low Costs and variety : The most attractive aspect of the store is the low costs for the sports equipments and sports accessories. The great variety of items catering to almost all sports, even scuba diving, cutting across different age groups, is definite to catch the attention of every customer.

Product Arrangement : The items are supposedly of good quality and are arranged very conveniently at arms reach distance to a convenient vertical height, of about 7 feet.

The shopfloor employees seemed to be quite aware of inventory management principles too. One of them was telling us how for each of the rack they have to pay rent and thus they are under constant pressure to improve the returns from the shelf space.

The Store manager Ching, an Alliance alumnus was very helpful explaining about the growth of Decathlon in India and its customer centric approach through many live cases. (sorry for the poor audio..)

Sales channels : When some of the students asked the store personnel as to why Decathlon products are not available either on Amazon or Flipkart or any other e-commerce website, the reply was evident of the confidence Decathlon had for the products it was selling. Decathlon wishes to make a mark for itself through its efforts and not to piggyride on either Amazon or Flipkart. The indications are that Decathlon is slowly getting successful in their endeavours to establish online presence in India. Moreover  their 52nd store coming up in the country soon.

Customer Feedback : Feedback has a great role to play in the shopfloor layout as well as in improving the customer experience. Repeat visits from existing customers who come along with friends and family is a great way Decathlon reaches out to large sections of the population.

Wishing them the best in their India operations over the coming years..

This is definitely a retail outlet management students should visit to get to know what are international standards in retailing layouts ..


PS : we wish to thank the management of Decathlon for allowing the students to visit the shopfloor.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sikka and Infosys ..

The recent Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka's exit from Infosys made great news. What prompted Sikka to take the drastic step ? Could not Narayana Murthy have handled the sitation in a more dignified manner ?

Here are few moves from Sikka (quoted in the press) which Murthy (NRN as he is popularly called) felt ran counter to the popular Infosys culture and damaged it, resulting in the quick and smooth intervention of the founders.

1. Raising personal salary or getting the board to raise his annual salary to $11 million, app INR 70 crores
2. Setting unhealthy precedence by giving a hefty separation bonus to former CFO Rajiv Bansal of app INR 17 crores
3. Traveling to meet clients in chartered planes 
These are some of the allegations raised by NRN against Sikka which NRN felt were against the initial entrepreneurial spirit that got Infy blooming to this scale from a small setup started 36 years before in Pune in 1981.

The culture of extravaganza and splurge initiated by Sikka and team with the resultant loss in social esteem and prestige, NRN felt, was divergent to the values the founders of Infosys had envisioned for the company in the long run.

While Sikka wanted everything to be seen solely though the mirror of financial performance of the organization, NRN raised the plates a lot higher, deviating from the usual run-of-the-mill type of organization, expecting the organization to be a role model for the entire  entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country, upholding high standards of fiscal discipline, fulfilling social commitments and being a global role model in corporate governance. 

NRN felt Sikka had failed completely in pulling his team up to be able to meet, even partially, the lofty goals and objectives Infosys had set for itself. 

Looking at the other side of the coin, the point which NRN completely missed was the level of commitment an employee has towards an organization as different from that of a founder. All employees cannot have the "founder mindset" and work selflessly for the growth of the organization, risking the employee's personal life. The employee is as much bothered of his well-being as he is about the organization he serves.

The case of Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon is an example NRN should try to understand. Though Bezos draws a very modest salary, he ensures that all his employees are paid a bomb. The employees are motivated to give their best to the growth of the organization.  

Bezos understands that money is what motivates his employees. In the final run, indirectly we find Bezos benefits, his employees have made him among the top ten richest people on Earth by virtue of the value of the Amazon stock he holds. The remuneration Bezos gets from Amazon is a pittance compared to the value of the Amazon stock he holds.

The other example for non-interference is from NRN's family itself. NRN's famous co-brother Gururaj Deshpande, the serial entrepreneur, who is known to start great companies in US, like Cascade Communication, Corel Networks, Sycamore networks, Tejas Networks, a123systems, airvana .. After it becomes a roaring success, he used to leave it for the professionals to manage, and set his mind on the next great entrepreneurial idea.. Click here for a detailed writeiup ..

Sikka's exit may not affect the Infosys stock value for long, it is sure to rebound, but the dent it has made in the employee minds of not being an employee friendly organization and of not being a pay master, is sure to pull down Infosys repute and impact it's growth in the long run, though NRN would differ.

It's high time founders keep off and allow professionals to run the organization .. . Is it fair to expect ordinary employees, even 36 years after starting, to have the same zeal, commitment and founding spirit attitude as the founders, especially when Infosys is very cut and dry with initial recruits and looks only for exacting professionalism in them ?

For a CEO, who came from a product based IT co, with almost $20 billion turnover to a process based company, home grown, to the HO in Bangalore, India for just 17 days in a year and prefers to spend the rest of the time with clients across the world, showed a clear disconnect with the founders philosophy and work culture.

Getting the required CEO talent (and not CTO talent as in the case of Sikka) from India or any part of the world would not be a problem at all for Infosys. But it's high time Infosys moved from a sidelined role of IT service organisation to a major IT products organisation and that is where the future and money for Infosys would lie. In future, automation of IT maintenance work would wipe out Infosys, even before any of them would be even aware of the fast developments.

Considering the remuneration of professionals in the west, could NRN have erred in his assesment of the growth of the company in the long run ?

Having quit the organisation and departed from taking active part in the day-to-day decision making processes, should NRN have interfered and made the whole Director board concerned with the fast developments in the company of late ?

The future will tell us who was right and who erred ?

George .. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Hoysaleshwara temple rock carvings ..

Photo courtesy Alamy pjhotos
Images of rock carvings from Hoysaleshwara temple, Hassan, Karnataka.  

Exquisite, par excellence !! (zoom in for the details). 

Done during 1100 -1150 AD ..

This temple also has the famous pillars which have been exquisitely turned, (the turning process as on a lathe) .. But where on earth did they have turning / lathe technology 850 years back ? Simple marvellous and unexplainable ... Click here to watch a video on how the pillars have been turned ....

The necklaces are not one, but indeed two, so exquisitely carved out of rock with barely 3 mm gap between the two necklaces ..

Lot of unexplained developments, either the Hoysala sculptors were far more advanced than the most advanced CNC machines or robots of today or mankind has taken a lot from knowledge gained 900 years back.


Were it not for the destruction by the Muslim rulers and Mughal emperors,

Frustration and inability to add value, the impact of Lean thinking..

Simple and brilliant illustration of lean thinking..
Frustration is a state of mind when one is unable to add value to the tasks he/she is set to complete.
What are the factors impeding adding value to a process or product ? Though the discussion is focused mainly on manufacturing, all the concepts are equally applicable in the services context too.

James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones in 1996 propounded Lean Thinking as the absense of waste either in a product, process or technology. More often than not, waste creeps into almost all of our activities. Though Womack and Jones classified only seven wastes, an eighth waste that has been discussed and researched much is the waste of human capability, resources and skills in underemployment.

An effort is made here to classify the prioritise the wastes for removal according to the impact it has on our society.

1. Over Waiting - When a client in a litigation has to endlessly wait for the court to deliver the verdict, there is waiting, which is a waste of time. When morning commuters wait at a busy traffic junction for the lights to turn green, again it is waiting, a waste of time as there is improper matching of demand, traffic and commuters to capacity, the limitation on vehicles that can pass through a lane and speed limitations to avoid accidents. An ambulance carrying a critically injured patient to hospital waiting at a traffic signal can be fatal for the patient.

2. Excess Transport - Producing a resource at one place and consuming it at another place, (in the case of manufacturing) or trying to get the provider of a service and it's consumer at the same place (as in service organisations), is what drives the necessity of transportation across the world. If the provision of a product or service and its consumption can be brought closer, it would totally eliminate the need for transportation. Transportation according to me is the second largest generator of waste in the world.

The crux of the Lean Thinking process ..
3. Excess Inventory - inventory costs on an average almost 30% costs in a manufacturing environment and less in a service environment. Keeping inventory in check by responding to demand almost every time. Inventory is held to overcome the pressures of uncertainty, uncertainty in supply, uncertainty in transport, uncertainty in storage, uncertainty in the conversion process, uncertainty in the ability of the work force to add value, uncertainty in customer demand, uncertainty in government policies and what not. All these reflect on inefficiencies of the system and are reasons for us to keep some stock of inventory in order not to disturb the value addition process. Imagine how much inventory is piled across manufacturing and service organisations around the world

4. Under utilisation of human resources - More often than not we find highly skilled and qualified people occupying less challenging roles in organisations across the world. The skills of the employee are being under utilised, though for a shorter period of time, as promotions and transfers to more challenging environmtns do take care of such anomalies.

5. Over processing - The next major source of waste is over processing, be it products or services. Be it patients entering a hospital, as a source of revenue, hospitals do over-process or over-treat a patient in the hope of generating revenues to the hospital, though actually it is generating waste. In the process of boiling milk, the pasteurisation process has taken care of 99% of microbes in the milk, still we boil it to kills the remaining 1% bacteria, though it may be an inefficient process.

6. Defects/Reworks - due to poor quality of machines and material, poor skills of workers or improperly maintained work or storage environment, we find lot of waste being generated across the world. Controlling these defects help save raw materials, machine time, worker time etc. We find the workers are more relaxed and focused on the necessary and urgent tasks to be completed.

7. Over production - Due to improper demand forecasts or bull whip effect (amplification of demand), we find production more often exceeding actual demand, generating waste and resulting in unsold stocks forcing disposal of stocks which could turn out to be very detrimental for the profitability of the supply chain.

8. Excess Motion - Needless repetition of a process results in waste of time, effort and costs. Machine intervention works well here, but involves additional costs. For example automation is a clean substitute for needless repetition of motion but entails great costs. The ideal thing would be to do simple work study of the process and eliminate unnecessary and all non-value adding tasks.

Having identified the prioritised ranking of wastes, the study needs to look at finding the priority of wastes for different industrial sectors. Knowing the priorities for wastes it becomes easy for managers to decide where to concentrate their limited managerial and technical resources to extract the maximum benefit from deploying lean thinking in the shop floor.


Ref :
1.  May, Mathew, Its time to wage an all-out war on waste, HBR, December 2012.
2.  Womack,Thomas, Daniel Jones (1996), Lean Thinking, Simon and Schuster, NY.
PS : The wastes ranking has been done with inputs from an MBA student group with limited industrial exposure but excellent practical exposure.        

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Diesel vs. Petrol, environmental pollution ..

Modern research states that if you are owning a diesel car, you are polluting the environment four times more (4x) than a petrol car and doing a great disservice to your society and surroundings.

SUVs and other high powered vehicles run on diesel and pollute the environment heavily. Look at the situation practically, do private commuting vehicles require all that power ?

Though Diesel has a higher calorific value and Diesel engines are more efficient than Petrol engines, Diesel engines have higher emissions of NOx and particulate matter in comparison to Petrol vehicles with catalytic converters. (Catalytic converters help mostly oxidise the CO to CO2 besides NO to NOx and unburnt hydrocarbons which otherwise cause smog)

Especially when these toxic emissions like NOx and SOx, have higher fatal health repercussions, diesel cars are a disaster ! In addition, the cost of fatal health repercussions like cancer is immeasurable !!

The general public look smartly at the parochial picture, at keeping the running costs of vehicles low. To help industrial use, public transportation and to control costs, most countries price diesel cheaper than gasolene (petrol) by way of subsidies, for instance it costs less for diesel than petrol in India, unmindful of the bigger picture of the damages it does to the environment..

Contrasting with earlier reports which found CO and CO2 to be detrimental to human health, recent research points to NOx emissions which are the main culprit in deaths related to automobile emissions. Click on this Guardian newspaper link to read of how almost 38,000 people across the world (maninly from China, Europe and India) die every year to diesel pollution (or diesel vehicles meeting pollution regulation standards and failing to meet pollution regulation standards). Thee study also points to the fact that excess NOx (having escaped regulators lenses) will still be responsible for about 70,000 deaths annually by 2040 AD.

For unit pollution, every diesel-km a vehicle runs is equivalent to four petrol-km.

Let us be more responsible and leave enough of our beautiful environment for our future generations to enjoy and live in healthily. Let us dump those beasts and go for Petrol vehicles, still better electric vehicles in the very near future .


Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, interview after release from Yemeni captors ..

Having been brought up in a Salesian school (Don Bosco Irinjalakuda, Kerala), I feel so elated at the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil fr...

My popular posts over the last month ..